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  1. #1

    How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Hi guys,
    It's Emma again. Everything sounds great in Audacity until I play it with my vocal track - which sounds awful.
    I'm using a condensor mic plugged directly into computer's line-in, and I realize that's probably the problem.
    But do I need a USB Mic? Do I need a preamp (are there any cheap ones?)? Or would a Behringer audio mixer help my vocals sound better?
    Any help you guys can offer would be so much appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Emma

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  3. #2
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    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Can you attach an mp3 clip? If we can hear it we can help better.

    If you aren't using a actual recording gear, you are going to have a hard time.

    Brandon

  4. #3

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    I don't see a problem with plugging a mic into your sound card. Maybe its a volume imbalance and your not getting "all of " the mic.Or getting digital distortion. Here's another thing: If you want a full sound, sing really close to the mic. If your back too far, and the mic is just a "regular mic" that is not a large diaphram it might not sound very good, or may not convey the whole sound of your voice. I have a Neumann and it may be a little more forgiving. The thing is yeah you can get MORE STUFF ie., mixers and other mics and preamps and compressors, but you 'll always have to consider the very first instrumment in the path anyway. I have the audacity program and that even has plug-ins right? You can use one of them to change the sound as well. make sure all your audio inputs and outputs are at reasonble volumes. Digital deoesn't mean you need a USB mic, but its good your trying everything..you learn from that too. Good Luck!

  5. #4

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Hi guys,

    Emma again ... doing better at getting my songs down ...

    I got a Tascam US-144 USB 2.0 audio interface. My Shure SM58 mic goes directly into the tascam, which goes into my PC. I'm using Cubase LE4 and Audacity as software.

    My problem is still that when I'm live, my vocals sound rich, full and powerful. They fill the room and flow into the music. But why I try to record them, well, they sound ... flat, empty, lifeless,

    I'm experimenting with the Effects ... does anyone have any general tips or advice on compression, reverb and delay for vocals?

    Thanks for any help that you guys can think of.

    Emma

  6. #5

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Tons of things come up,and none are available for words. Plus I'm not an audio engineering genius, but let me take a shot.
    Lets start with Compression. First of all there's the ratio. How much do you want of the natural sound thats full of dynamics, but might not be a FULL SOUNDING SOUND, becasue the dynamis can get swallowed up by the rest of the mix. So I use compression when I want to center the vocals around certain frequencies and flatten it out. Its existing in the mix,with compression, like something in the foreground against the many mountains of DYNAMIC in the background. So you flatten it out by using compression to make it stand out in the mix. and RATIO, in compression says how much you want to flatten it out (thereby increasing the fullness in some frequencies, dynamically. if its 2:1 there's hatrdly any compression, 4:1 is alot more and so on. What do you want the vocals to sound like? sensual, exciting,full, thin (like a background vocal maybe ) plus you can group 5 vocals together and with compression get a sound like Journey on the NA NA NA NA song,if you know which one I;'m reffering to.by compressing 5 group vocals they become as ONE BIG VOCAL. thats compression- use too little and all the dynamics are present but the sound doesn't stand out as much, use too much and the vocal is lfeless, thin(too thin) and "squeezed".
    Reverb used to be used in the seventies like crazy.all of a sudden in the nintees, Nirvana would hardly use it, not many of the rockers did,they started fooling around with chorussy doubling and stuff.
    On a ballad, a touch of reverb goes a long way. Fool with the parameters in reverb settings. Try for an elegant amount. Up the dry/effect button.take a lot of effect off then slowly put it back in.
    also eq works in the reverb setting. the highs of your vocal have reverb designated to it in the Hi frequency part of the setting,of course the lows are represented too. I have a low baritone voice, or actually high baritone...my parts will be different then yours, I might wanna cut the low part of the reverb setting and boost the high, then roll off some reverb by lessening the effect and boosting the dry. delay is another issue. in time,it goes from the smallest amount of delay to a long echo. in milleseconds its displayed. words like Chorus,flanging denote low echo times,whereas slap back denotes a much longer time. then there are multiple echoes that decrease in volume., Left Right and center settings for complex digital delay, Modulation delay which colors and delays the sound.....thi sis enough for now. Sorry if I took so much room...Have fun, it truly is fun...

    Charlie Lang
    [FONT="Arial Black"][COLOR="Purple"][SIZE="4"][SIZE="3"]


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  7. #6

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Thank you SO MUCH! I'm going to spend the rest of the night just trial-and-error-ing with compression, delay, etc.

    I havent been able to find the right sound and its so frustrating. I need to amplify the vocal track because it comes out soooooo low - but that adds a hiss that I need to remove with noise reduction - but that adds a tinny sound ... ugggh!

    The echo effect sounded okay but now it just sounds wierd to me and I'm, well, double ugggh!

    I'm starting to think maybe I don't have my sound card / audio interface (tascam 144 usb 2.0) properly connected, and maybe thats (?) responsible for the low, dull, flat, empty vocals I'm working with? I know the SM58 mic is good, the software is good ... my speakers are good ...

    Do you know if the tascam audio interface is supposed to go into the computer BEYOND the USB connection? Should I also go line out of interface to line in on pc?

    I must be missing something ...

  8. #7

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    I don't know the answer to your final questions my friend, just that the line out of your interface should go line into your computer.I think. see, I don't use the computer to do my music, I have a Korg D3200. The usb from youur interface hooks up to a program on your PC right? What does HELP in the program say? Just type in your question. Sorry I can't help much on this...Good Luck..I also wish I could help on the mic volume. Did you try volume control? Do you see it in your tray? in the bottom of your computer..the spkr icon? that shouold tell you everything you have plugged in, and there shouold be settings that maybe your mic is going into.shouldnt be any noise. your mic (a 58 is fine) should sound good without any effects. The question is WHERE are the controls for the mic volume. Look in start
    programs
    accesseries for the
    volume control
    so that if you can't find yuour sound card, you may still find mic.
    the uSB connection is a way of Bypassing the mini jacks on your computer. I dont thinkk yuou should have to even use your mic jacks on your computer outs.
    [FONT="Arial Black"][COLOR="Purple"][SIZE="4"][SIZE="3"]


    Neumann tlm103 mic
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  9. #8

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Thank you chaz. I think you're right about that - if the USB goes from tascam 144 into PC, then I really shouldnt have to go line out of tascam to line/mic in to pc. But something's off, and I will keep at it. I wont bug you anymore, but I really appreciate your help, chaz!
    Emma

  10. #9

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    no please bug me. I'm mixing a song. its all fun. maybe we can figure this out. god knows i've had so much help along the way.
    [FONT="Arial Black"][COLOR="Purple"][SIZE="4"][SIZE="3"]


    Neumann tlm103 mic
    Casio Privia
    Ultrasone Headphones
    Presonus Eris 8 Monitors
    HP 3.0 Ghz x4
    Presonus Audiobox USB
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    A little knowledge
    A lot of passes

  11. #10

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Okay ... thanks!!!

    I just re-connected my tascam 144 interface USB to my PC, and now I'm going through the cubase LE4 set up instructions again to make sure my key connections are all right. Then I'll try a test recording and we'll see how it sounds ...

    Thanks!
    Emma

  12. #11

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    ... I'm going back to AUDACITY. I hate all the crackling and low sound in cubase ...

    I just need to get the right effects for my vocals in Audacity ...

  13. #12

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    I did it! My vocals finally sound good now!

    I increased the mic input in my tascam USB-144 and used only the compressor effect in Audacity. No amplify, no noise reduction, etc. I adjusted the compressor levels slightly, but they stayed fairly close to the defaults.

    Now, the vocals sound great ... there is NO latency ... NO clicking ... they're totally loud enough, full and rich.

    Thank you again for all your help!
    This Forum is the best!

    And ... thanks to you, Chaz!
    Emma

  14. #13

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    In audacity a good one to know about is NORMALIZATION. when you start pumping out songs, normalizing brings up whatever level you got on yer own. Select all the in effects I think you'll find normalization. Besides bringng up a sofetr signal in its own right, It makes your recordings mor e competitive in the music realm.
    [FONT="Arial Black"][COLOR="Purple"][SIZE="4"][SIZE="3"]


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  15. #14
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    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    I hate all the crackling and low sound in cubase ...
    Cubase doesn't cause crackling and low sounds. Cubase captures what you feed it. It sounds like you have a driver issue.

    Brandon

  16. #15
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    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Is there any Reason that there's an Audacity (Audacity?) category and not one for DP?

  17. #16

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Emma, If you are plugging a condenser Mic directly into a computer, it would be very quiet and have some noise because condenser mics need phantom power. without it you are going to be pushing your preamp so hard it is going to sound horrible. When you sing into a condenser mic you should be able to stand back about 1 and 1/2 feet from the mic and get a pretty good sound. Get a phantom powered preamp and don't use that 58 for vocals when recording. Usually a cheep condenser is going to beat out a dynamic mic for recording. I have to agree with Brandon and would like to hear the MP3 you recorded and I would be able to help you so much more...
    I wouldn't say I am older than dirt but, there is some dirt that is younger than me.

  18. #17
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    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Originally Posted by garageband
    Is there any Reason that there's an Audacity (Audacity?) category and not one for DP?
    It follows the level of interest. Start a thread and see if anyone else wants a DP forum.
    Opinions are like demos - I don't want to hear yours. - Stephen Colbert

  19. #18

    Talking Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Get a phantom powered preamp and don't use that 58 for vocals when recording. Usually a cheep condenser is going to beat out a dynamic mic for recording.
    he's right. i wouldn't use an SM58 for anything except maybe the bottom of a snare or blending with a good condenser on an amp cabinet. (the SM58 and SM57 are more or less the same mic with a different body).
    For you, i'd recommend a good, low-end condenser. Check out the StudioProjects B1, the AKG Perception 120, or the Rode NT1-A.
    Condensers will almost always pick up more detail than a dynamic, and i'd most definitely use them on a female voice.
    It should plug right into your Tascam box, and use phantom power, like MetalDave was talking about.
    Regarding your problems with the box and Cubase, this most likely is a driver issue, the interface you have is notorious for not having reliable drivers.
    If you're using Cubase, plug it in with USB. If you're in Audacity, go with line in/line out.

    i hope this helps. i've fought many a long and hard battle with audacity and i know just how frustrating it can get sometimes.
    Last edited by dangercityskyline; 12-02-2008 at 07:59 AM.

  20. #19
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    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Originally Posted by dangercityskyline
    he's right. i wouldn't use an SM58 for anything except maybe the bottom of a snare or blending with a good condenser on an amp cabinet. (the SM58 and SM57 are more or less the same mic with a different body).
    I'd also invest in a solid mixer too, if you have the cash. Behringer or Mackie should do the trick, I think they have USB mixers. Like MetalDave said, condensers require what's called phantom power, and your sound card just doesn't have it. this isn't a big deal as i'm pretty sure most sound cards don't. having a mixer would fix this
    OK. I don't know if Emma is still around but last we knew, she was happy...

    FACTS:

    1. Her Tascam USB-144 does have phantom power, as do many audio interfaces these days. (It doesn't seem she knew how to use it.)
    2. There is no reason to use a mixer for a one-person overdub type recording process.
    3. The SM58 is a respected vocal microphone. (The best microphone for the job is the one that sounds the best.)
    Opinions are like demos - I don't want to hear yours. - Stephen Colbert

  21. #20

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Originally Posted by dangercityskyline
    he's right. i wouldn't use an SM58 for anything except maybe the bottom of a snare or blending with a good condenser on an amp cabinet. (the SM58 and SM57 are more or less the same mic with a different body).
    For you, i'd recommend a good, low-end condenser. Check out the StudioProjects B1, the AKG Perception 120, or the Rode NT1-A.
    Condensers will almost always pick up more detail than a dynamic, and i'd most definitely use them on a female voice.
    It should plug right into your Tascam box, and use phantom power, like MetalDave was talking about.
    Regarding your problems with the box and Cubase, this most likely is a driver issue, the interface you have is notorious for not having reliable drivers.
    If you're using Cubase, plug it in with USB. If you're in Audacity, go with line in/line out.

    i hope this helps. i've fought many a long and hard battle with audacity and i know just how frustrating it can get sometimes.
    Hey I'm about to by a firewire and condenser mic for recording vox for freestylers. You said for Cubase use USB and Audacity use Line IN? Well the Firewire I want goes into USB and when I get it, Im most likely gunna keep using Audacity. Will the USB still work with audacity? (and the firewire yahama I'm getting is going to be the Audiogram 6)
    "Anything too stupid to be said is sung." - Voltaire (1694-1778)

  22. #21
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    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Originally Posted by DJRecklessRick
    Hey I'm about to by a firewire and condenser mic for recording vox for freestylers. You said for Cubase use USB and Audacity use Line IN? Well the Firewire I want goes into USB and when I get it, Im most likely gunna keep using Audacity. Will the USB still work with audacity? (and the firewire yahama I'm getting is going to be the Audiogram 6)
    You are going to buy an Audio Interface. Firewire is a type of serial connection like USB. Yes, you should be able to work with Audacity with the Yamaha, but the Audiogram is especially designed to work with Cubase, so that is a strange choice of hardware if you want to work in Audacity. If you give Cubase a chance, you'll probably learn to love it. There's alot more ways to work with audio than in Audacity.
    Opinions are like demos - I don't want to hear yours. - Stephen Colbert

  23. #22

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    Originally Posted by Electriclight
    You are going to buy an Audio Interface. Firewire is a type of serial connection like USB. Yes, you should be able to work with Audacity with the Yamaha, but the Audiogram is especially designed to work with Cubase, so that is a strange choice of hardware if you want to work in Audacity. If you give Cubase a chance, you'll probably learn to love it. There's alot more ways to work with audio than in Audacity.
    I'm all up for trying out cubase I've never worked with any other programs yet and kind of excited. The yamaha audiogram 6 works in place of my sound card correct? Should I invest in it if it has no MIDI ports?
    "Anything too stupid to be said is sung." - Voltaire (1694-1778)

  24. #23

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    1. Her Tascam USB-144 does have phantom power, as do many audio interfaces these days. (It doesn't seem she knew how to use it.)
    2. There is no reason to use a mixer for a one-person overdub type recording process.
    3. The SM58 is a respected vocal microphone. (The best microphone for the job is the one that sounds the best.)
    i know. i went back and edited this, but apparently you got to my mistake before i did. you're right about the tascam having phantom power and the fact that she probably doesn't need a mixer, however, my advice about the SM58 still stands. yes, it is a respected vocal mic most commonly used in live applications, and maybe even a decent starter recording mic, but for not that much more money, she could pick up a solid condenser. and i don't think anyone's going to dispute the fact that a $120 condenser from a reputable company will sound at least a little bit better than a $100 dynamic from an also very reputable company.

    also, keep in mind that these suggestions are exactly that. obviously, she doesn't have to do anything i recommended. they're just tips. she doesn't have to invest in a condenser, but if she wants to, there's that choice.
    and if she's fine with the sound from her 58, then she should use it, because like you said, the best mic for the job is the one that sounds best.
    "Not a bad buy for the money. As it is said, you get what you pay for. It has okay features, but I don't understand what it condenses. I poured a can of soup on it, but it nothing. It did not condense it. Extremely disappointing. I had to heat it without adding water."
    -review of MXL 4000 tube condenser on Musician's Friend

  25. #24
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    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    i don't think anyone's going to dispute the fact that a $120 condenser from a reputable company will sound at least a little bit better than a $100 dynamic from an also very reputable company.
    Rick Rubin might...sometimes.

    If dynamics, ribbons, etc had no purpose to the "superior" condenser mic than they wouldn't make them anymore. There are times when a condenser is the wrong mic for a source.

    You can debate all you want about these dynamics, but they end up as lead vocals on more multi-platinum big boy records that we think sound good than you think.

    Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers is 13x platinum and used a SM57 on lead vocals. The rumor is that Bono from U2 won't sing through anything other than a SM58 live or in the studio. I believe it.

    Another complication. The 57, 58, and SM7b all get used extensively on lead vocals on records you own. When condensers are used, they are typically the high end jobs. You don't hear too often about a $100 condenser making it's way on to many big records. A big reason for this is the added fizz they intentionally design into cheap mics. They make cheap mics brighter because it's more likely to cater to the beginner. Over time, you learn that this brigthness isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

    Brandon

  26. #25

    Re: How do I record better vocals in Audacity?

    i'm not slamming the merits of dynamics and ribbons. you're very correct about them having a proper time and place, but at the same time, i think it's safe to say that as a general rule condensers are used more frequently for vocals on hit records.

    didn't know about the 57 on the Peppers album, but I've heard that story about Bono and his beloved SM and Beta 58's.

    here's the thing though: as cool as bono is, he's probably more the exception to the rule than anything else.

    and like you pointed out, most of the mics that get used ARE high end jobs, and this applies even for dynamics. Examples that come to me quickly are the EV RE20 and the Shure SM7b, and i know you've probably heard that the SM7b was used on Thriller. I don't have any reason to not believe this.

    but all this high end mic talk is more or less irrevelant to emma's original problem. she's (and i could be wrong) probably not producing a hit record right now, so that's why i suggested a lower-end condenser. she's welcome to spend an ungodly amount of money on a neumann if she wants to, but it doesn't really suit her need at the moment.
    "Not a bad buy for the money. As it is said, you get what you pay for. It has okay features, but I don't understand what it condenses. I poured a can of soup on it, but it nothing. It did not condense it. Extremely disappointing. I had to heat it without adding water."
    -review of MXL 4000 tube condenser on Musician's Friend

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